• Vintage Film Posters and Film  auction at Christies

    Sale 5872

    Vintage Film Posters and Film Memorabilia

    24 November 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 430

    Gargantua The Great

    Price Realised  

    Gargantua The Great
    A very rare, original, hand painted, canvas, circus sideshow banner: titled the World's Most Terrifying Creature, advertising the 'Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus' attraction of a lowland gorilla, with a crude depiction of 'Gargantua the Great' in a fashionable 'King Kong' 'Beauty and the Beast' pose, Downie Bros. inc. Show Tent Builders,... Los Angeles stencilled to the reverse, leather tabs and metal rings to sides and corners - 70x135in. (177x342cm); accompanied by a letter from the owner concerning its provenance


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    In 1938 Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus were offered the opportunity to acquire a 600lb, eight year old lowland gorilla, called Buddy by his then owner, a Mrs. Lintz, who had taken in the gorilla from a Sea Captain acquaintance, after he had brought it to the USA. The Captain had been given the beast by African missionaries. Sadly either on or just after the voyage back to America, a disgruntled crew member threw nitric acid at the animal, horribly disfiguring the gorilla's face. The financially struggling Ringling Bros. saw the opportunity of a sensational new attraction, and eager to capitalise on buddy's size and gruesome facial features, dubbed him 'Gargantua the Great - The World's Most Terrifying Living Creature!'. The general public, possibly on the back of the film 'King Kong' were hooked and he was toured from New York to Los Angeles, saving the circus troupe from bankruptcy. In 1941 the circus found their 'Gargantua' a partner, but sadly they never mated or had offspring. After becoming ill, he died in November 1949. The skeleton of the 'other' King Kong is now on display at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 15% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.


    Saleroom Notice

    Since cataloguing it has been brought to our attention that this banner was probably produced to advertise a small circus or even a carnival that may have had their own gorilla, as opposed to the actual Ringling Bros. attraction. The wording used alludes to the strapline seen on much of the Ringling Bros. official promotional material.